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Highly Strategic Business Plans Include Mobile Options

Read the first blog in this three-part series.

Apps have revolutionized the way that people use their mobile devices. Short for "applications," apps deliver information, entertainment, and fingertip service at rapid speeds. Apps are so widely accepted that Apple has more than 425,000 applications available for free and for purchase and Google has over 200,000 apps available to the Android Market. Apple has a reported 15 billion downloads, while Google recently reported crossing the 4.5 billion downloaded-application mark. Apps help eliminate some problems, but what’s a customer to do when he or she needs live support? What can businesses do to pick up the slack in this area?

First and foremost, the customer must be able to access the information that he or she needs at any given time. That’s where the application itself comes into play. I’ve mentioned in the past the desire customers have to solve their issues using mobile technology. I’ve also written about the disappointment customers feel when their issue isn’t resolved the first time they make contact with a call center. The challenge lies in the ability to bridge the gap between self-service and live service. Both have their merits. Let’s examine each closely.

Self-Service in the Form of Apps

Applications are easy to access while on the go. People like them because they fulfill their needs at a moment’s notice. Banks use apps to make account information available to their customers. For example, if you want to know your balance or see a list of transactions, you can do so by logging into your financial institution’s mobile app.

Apps increase efficiency by putting the customer in charge, eliminating the need for multiple phone calls and additional customer service reps. They’re convenient because the customer doesn’t have to be in one set place to retrieve information about the deposits that were made into his or her account. Although apps are preferable in many cases, they do not answer every question that comes up; that’s where live service is preferable.

Live Service Via a Call Center

Despite the speed and ease-of-use of mobile applications, there are times when a live agent is needed to answer questions and ease the minds of customers. They do this by resolving issues the first time they come up. In order to increase first-call resolution, call centers often use virtual queuing to help them handle call volume.

Virtual queuing occurs when the call volume is high and exceeds the number of customer service representatives available to take calls. The virtual queuing software activates, allowing customers to hang up the phone and maintain their place in the queue without remaining on the line. When an agent becomes available, he or she returns the phone call to the customer, thus preventing them from becoming agitated because of the long wait.

It's All in the Approach

Strategy is the most important weapon of attack businesses have when dealing with mobile services. IDC, an advisory firm, predicts big changes by 2014 in the way people access information. Forget netbooks, tablets, and traditional PCs; mobile is where it’s at. The firm believes that the total number of mobile apps downloaded will reach a record 76 billion. In dollars and cents, that accounts for an estimated $35 billion in revenue. If you want to reach your targeted demographic, your business must be mobile-friendly.

Don’t misunderstand. It’s not about the mobile device itself. It’s about understanding the importance of mobility. We all live busy lives. There are very few people who aren’t on the go at all times. Mobility represents a number of positive attributes: it’s convenient, it’s real time, it’s social, providing up-to-the-minute information from a variety of resources.

With mobile apps, there are no phone calls to wait for or messages to retrieve. There is no hold music to listen to and no snippy receptionist to deal with. A person can access an app, text or email, glean the information they need while traveling from one destination to the next, and go about their business without interrupting the course of their day. Information at your fingertips has revolutionized customer expectations. They expect more from you and your business, so you must accommodate the customer if you want to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace.

Mobile is linked to devices, where mobility is ever changing. To not understand the difference between the two can be a costly mistake. It’s similar to comparing hardware to software; there is simply no way to directly connect the two. They are two separate entities. One complements the other.

To avoid love loss in mobile strategy, David Armano, EVP of Global Innovation & Integration at Edelman Digital, advises companies to consider the following:

  • Understand the nuances of mobility and mobile behaviors before going gun ho.
  • Going mobile doesn’t mean that you need to have an app.
  • Don’t put mobile tactics in front of strategy.

You must understand mobility, as well as its benefits and complications, before deciding if it’s right for your business.

It is my hope to have explained the basis of mobile strategy before moving on to my next blog, which addresses the benefits of self-service, the different mobile platforms, and ways in which the customer can become empowered and more self-sufficient by using apps.